Sculpture - The Metropolitan Museum of Art

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					Italian                     Sculpture
THOMAS         P. F.    HOVING

Acting Curatorof MedievalArt and The Cloisters

Four new acquisitions of Italian Romanesqueand early Gothic sculpture are published                 Contents
in this issue of the Bulletin: two monumental carved marble doorways, a holy-water
font, and a capital marvelously rich in figuraland foliated decoration. These sculptures           Italian Romanesque
have many associations- in style, date, region, and history - not only among themselves                 THOMAS     P. F. HOVING         345
but with the small but excellent collection already in The Cloisters and the Main
                                                                                                    The Doorwayof San Leonardo
Building. It might thus seem that all had been gathered together according to a master               al Frigido
plan, or chosen specifically from a wide range of availablematerial to illustrate the most              CARMEN     GOMEZ-
vital currents of twelfth and early thirteenth century sculpture in Italy. But there was                MORENO                          349
never any great availability of monuments and no master plan. Romanesquesculpture                  A Saint on a Holy-WaterFont
of any country, particularly of Italy, is exceedingly rare these days, when private and                 BONNIE     YOUNG                362
public collectors seem to be searchingfor even the smallest fragment of this strong and
                                                                                                    "To RepresentWhat Is as It Is"
beautiful style. Furthermore,collections seldom are formed from a pre-ordained plan.
                                                                                                     VERA  K. OSTOIA          367
They grow in proportion to the enthusiasm and the perception of the individuals
charged with building them, and are also affected, to a considerablemeasure, by luck.              The Sangemini
   The fortuitous is the rule in coming acrossRomanesquesculpture of large scale. The                   WILLIAM     H. FORSYTH          373
portal now installed in the Fuentiduefia Chapel at The Cloisters (Frontispiece), ana-
lyzed in the following article by Carmen G6mez-Moreno, was discovered par hasard
during researchon another object at The Cloisters: the twelfth century Annunciation
relief from San Piero Scheraggio in Florence. An old photograph of the door was en-
countered in a book on architecture. The brief published information recounted that
it had once been in the church of San Leonardo al Frigido, had been removed in the
mid-nineteenth century, and had been installed somewherenear Nice in a private villa.
The search for the doorway began under the assumptionthat, even if the villa had been
destroyed, monumental architectural sculpture simply does not vanish forever. After
months of work it was eventually found lying abandonedand almost forgotten within
the plot of a modern housing development. When its excellence was revealed, it was
                                                                                                   FRONTISPIECE:   Marbledoor-
acquired. Soon afterward a marble holy-water font (see page 362) was discovered on                 wayfromSanLeonardo Frigido
the New York art market that appeared to have stylistic relationshipswith the door.                (seepage349) and holy-water
It, too, was added to the collections. In time, convincing evidence, published in these           font (seepage 362) as installedat
                                                                                                   The Cloisters
pages by Bonnie Young, was found that it comes from the workshop of the most
renowned sculptor of mid-twelfth century Tuscany, who exerted considerableinfluence
                                                                                                   ON THE COVER:  TheEntryof
on the development of the master of the San Leonardo portal.                                       Christ Jerusalem.
                                                                                                        into       Detailof the
   Not too many years ago an entire Bulletindevoted to Italian Romanesquesculpture                 San Leonardo


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                                      would have been impossible. Appreciation of the style is still a relatively recent phe-
                                      nomenon, having established itself only in the decades between the two world wars.
                                      Today we no longer employ exclusively such terms as "brutal and crude" to describe
                                      the general characteristicsof Romanesque art, nor are we accustomed to read such
                                      descriptionsas "the carvings of the Roman medieval manner possessa modicum of in-
                                      terest despite their inelegance, their awkwardness  and their rustic and coarsebehavior."
                                      Today   we accept the style more readily within its own historicaland artistic boundaries.
                                         Contemporarytaste has developed a liking for primitive phasesof art - whether that
                                      of Mesopotamia,Africa,or America.Perhapsthis is the reasonwhy the uncompromising
                                      austerity and unsentimental primitivism of Romanesqueart has a growing appeal. But
                                      one must be cautiousin believing that one fully understandsthe nature of Romanesque.
                                      It was made, after all, primarily "to serve God" and we should take care not to negate
                                      its deeper characterby an all-too-moderntendency to look upon it purely aesthetically.
                                      The admonition of JosephHeer might well be taken to heart: "In the twentieth century
                                      it takes a stout heart, strong nerves, and an alert and unprejudicedmind to derive any
                                      benefit from an encounter with this great art. The monuments of Romanesque art are
                                      no mere curios, quaint objects to be given a cursory glance and then dismissed with a
                                      slick judgment, (judgment, in fact is entirely out of place); they elude the trigger-happy
                                      photographer,whose effortsare all too aptly describedas snapshots.What they demand
                                      is fear, awe, distance and detachment, patience and silent perseverance,until at last the
                                      beholderis brought to a genuine confrontation with the objects of his contemplation."
I.   Fragmentof a figure carryinga       The Romanesquestyle flourishedin the eleventh and twelfth centuries; its crowning
     watercask,Italian,late xiI       achievementswere created from the beginning to the middle of the twelfth. Its primary
     century.Marble, height32 inches. characteristicsin architecture are round arches and walls, built thick to support the
     The CloistersCollection,57.63
                                      great barrel vaults reminiscent of the structures of the Roman Empire. Perhaps even
                                      more important is that the Romanesquesignalsthe reappearance monumental figural
                                      sculpture after a hiatus    of centuries and the achievement of an indissoluble unity
                                      of sculpture and architecture.
                                         As the architecturalstyle was born and developed, the vast expansesof stone sculp-
                                      ture, those carved encyclopedias of Biblical history, did not emerge full-blown. Con-
                                      fronted with the task of creating a profusionof monumental sculpture, artists looked to
                                      a variety of models for inspiration- actual remnantsof pre-Christianand early Christian

                                     THE    METROPOLITAN          MUSEUM        OF   ART    Bulletin
                                     VOLUME      XXIII,     NUMBER       IO                 JUNE     I965

                                     Published monthly from October to June and quarterly from July to September. Copyright ? I965
                                     by The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Fifth Avenue and 82nd Street, New York, N. Y. 10028. Second
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                                     Museum Members. Four weeks' notice required for change of address. Back issues available on micro-
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                                     Assistant Editors: Anne Preuss and Katharine H.B. Stoddert; Assistant: Suzanne R. Boorsch; Designer:
                                     Peter Oldenburg.

antiquity. This phenomenon is usually described as a "proto-Renaissance"in order to
contrast it to the Carolingian renovatio, the Ottonian and Anglo-Saxon revivals of                                      4

the early eleventh century, and the High Renaissanceitself. The "proto-Renaissance"
is rooted in those regions where the classical element was a fundamental part of the
civilization and where monuments of antique art were readily to be found.
   In Italy this movement is especiallystriking; for ancient monuments are ever present.
The architrave of the San Leonardo doorway is an outstanding example of the direct
influence of an early model, as Miss G6mez-Moreno emphasizes.Not only is its iconog-
raphy (the form in which an establishedsubject is cast) Early Christian,but the manner
of delineating draperiesby a network of strongly incised lines is a reflection of the late
antique style predominant from the third to the fifth century. On the font, the large                             'I--- el

heads in deep relief that practically dwarf the bodies and the oversized, expressive
hands parallelsarcophagiand even frescoesof the Early Christianperiod. Master Gugli-                          %   I

elmo of Pisa, from whose workshop the font emanates, must have been aware of and                            Ii
interested in the remains of Christian and antique sculptures that abound in Pisa.
   The use of earlier models, so necessary to the formation of monumental sculpture in
central Italy, does not mean that the sculptors copied the sources slavishly. Indeed it 2. Bust of a young prince, Italian,
seemsapparentthat they were not interested in making precisefacsimiles.They adapted           early XIII century.Marble
them, choosing    what they wanted, expanding or contracting the prototypes. In the           with traces of lapis lazuli, height
                                                                                              20 inches. FletcherFund,
Romanesqueepoch artistssubjected everything to a processof medievalization.Roman-
esque forms cast antique shadows.
   Although the use of an antique source may well explain the clarity and freshnessof
                                                                                           3. Seatedprophet, Italian, late xi
the head of a young man (Figure 2), made probably in a workshopassociatedwith the
                                                                                              century.Marble, height25 inches.
court of Frederick II, the classicalaura is more general than specific. The two marble        The CloistersCollection,
figures  said to have come from Lucca (Figures I, 3), exhibited in the St. Guilhem            47. II.I9
cloister, are related to monuments of antiquity in a very vague way. The fragmentary
figure (either Josephfrom a Flight into Egypt or a disciple from the Way to Emmaus)
reminds one of an antique philosopher type. But both sculptures are clearly a later
development in the formation of twelfth century Tuscan sculpture than the San Leo-
nardo door to which they are associated in style. The complicated draperies, which
appear to cover the inert bodies like great strandsof twisted rope, lack the directnessof
the earlier style; decorative modulation has taken the place of simplicity.
   Several sourcescould be used for the same work of art. The architecturalmoldings of
the pulpit in which the Florentine Annunciation relief was originally installed are frank
derivations from ancient Roman motifs, but the figures themselves are related to con-
temporary Byzantine representationsas are the wooden figures of Mary and John on
exhibit in the RomanesqueHall at The Cloisters.
   The desire and need for monumental sculpture in profusion is the very essence of
Romanesque style. The development would have been near-impossiblewithout the
mute yet powerful teachings of antiquity. The imposing lions guarding portals, such as
those from Quattro Castella in Emilia now flanking the entrance to the Cuxa cloister
 (Figure 4), cannot really be traced to specific Roman or Etruscan origins as some have
tried to suggest. Yet the concept of size and mass so beautifully brought to fruition in

                                                 these "young lions that roar after their prey and seek their meat from God" is surely
                                                 based upon the understandingof the antique.
                                                    Much of the nature of the "proto-Renaissance,"or twelfth century revival in art,
                                                 can be explained by the use of models ignored for centuries, but one should not assign
                                                 every trace of classicalreminiscencein this period of Italian sculpture to a retrospective
                                                 point of view. In some regions, such as Venice, Campania, and Umbria, the classical
                                                 heritage was carried from late antique times into the twelfth and thirteenth centuries
                                                 without cessation, as the decoration of the newly installed Sangemini doorway attests
     v   r;' ,
                                                 (see page 373). Whether examples of the revival or the survival, the monuments of
                                                 Italian Romanesque and early Gothic sculpture in the collections, from the font to
i:                      ii
                                    "Y'          the superbly carved capital from Troia (see page 367), illustrate differing facets of this
                        " ' ..,.
                                                 complex "proto-Renaissance." are products of that awesome style, which, as Ruskin
            4. Columnsupportin theform of a      observed, is the only Western art that never suffereddegeneration, but changed gradu-
               half-lengthlion, from Quattro     ally into a manner of carving as noble as itself- the Gothic.
               Castella (Reggio nell' Emilia),
               xii century. Red marble, height
               26 inches. The Cloisters

            The starson this map indicatewhere
            the objectsfeatured in thefive
            articlesin this Bulletin comefrom


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